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Sutter Enjoys Challenge

Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 12:09 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Sutter Enjoys Challenge
Following an injury-shortened season, Brandon Sutter put up career-high numbers in 2009-10. But head coach Paul Maurice had a different idea for him last season.

Michael Smith
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Maurice had Sutter center the third line, and he often matched up that line with the opposing team’s top line, giving Sutter and his linemates the challenge of stymieing the most prolific scorers in the league.

As a result of his new shutdown role, Sutter’s offensive production decreased by 11 points (14g, 15a vs. 21g, 19a in 2009-10). However, Sutter thrived in becoming more of a defensive forward, finishing at plus-13, compared to a minus-1 in the season prior.

“I like playing against the other team’s better players,” he said. “That’s a challenge for me and my linemates, but at the same time you want to be offensive and score goals. But it doesn’t always matter who you’re playing against – you just got to go out and play.”

Sutter, listed last year at 6-foot-3 and 183 pounds, said that he feels a difference on the ice already this season. (New measurements will be made on Friday, when the team has physicals.)

“I feel a bit bigger and stronger on the ice, and that will help me,” he said. “Every year you try to get more complete – try to find ways to do more at every position and in every place of the game.”

In preparation for training camp – now just a couple of days away – and the season ahead, Sutter has been taking part in the informal offseason workouts.

“We use these informal skates as a bit of conditioning,” he said. “Most of us have been skating for a couple of months now, getting our timing back and shaking off all the rust.”

That rust built up over another long summer, one that saw Sutter sign a new three-year deal with the team that drafted him 11th overall in 2007. But assessing the team’s performance last season, Sutter saw positives, despite missing the playoffs for the second year in a row.

“Last year we came so close to making the playoffs that it’s hard to say we had a bad year. Obviously if you don’t make it, you feel like you failed,” he said. “But we’ve got some fresh faces here, and I’m excited about it. I think it will be a nice change.”

Last year, the Canes traveled overseas for a pre-season matchup in Russia and two regular season games in Finland, followed by an extended Western road swing. This season, even though the team plays its first 6 of 8 games on the road, Sutter said he is happy to stay in North America.

“It didn’t really hurt us much, standings-wise,” he said, in reference to coming home from the road stretch at 4-3. “But I think it’s nice for guys to come here and get settled, especially those with kids and families.

“They don’t have to worry about the mental part about being away from home. It’s nice just to be here.”

Surely, the Caniacs feel the same.

Other tidbits from the informal workouts at the RBC Center:
  • The fans’ first chance to catch Brandon Sutter in game action before the start of the 2011-12 season will be this Sunday, Sept. 18 during the annual Red-White game, a part of the Caniac Carnival.
  • Bryan Allen, Jeff Skinner and Eric Staal were among the skaters on the ice this morning.
  • Mike Murphy and Justin Peters manned the creases today, and each made saves during the 40-second 3-on-3s that received hoops and hollers from a few guys.
  • The skate wrapped up early today, right after 10:30 a.m., in preparation for CanesVision’s last day of on-ice shoots.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
K. Versteeg 63 11 22 -6 33
E. Staal 63 10 23 -3 33
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81